Alex's Fishing Report 2 February 2017
You couldn’t write a better script for this wet season and the potential of a great runoff… especially after two abysmal Wets and “that sucks” runoffs.
Once again, my favourite Daly River is powering through the wet season and getting more than its fair share of deluge.
The last two major Daly floods were a bit late in the season and followed poor build-up rains.
This one’s different: there’ve been major falls right from early September and into October – barra breeding time – which this column reported on as early as mid-year following discussions with Bureau of Metreology climatologists.
We’ve said all along that a ripper build-up was going to happen, and it did.
We kept you abreast of the IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole), which was the reason for the great build-up.
We reported with glee that El Niño – and its warm ocean currents – would, thankfully, have a zero impact on the 2016-17 wet season. NB. A strong Le Niño year has many implications on Australian weather patterns, and a lousy Top End wet season is always one.
And we reported that its nemesis – La Niña, which is far less common an event as her control-freak brother, and was trying to cool Pacific and north Australian waters and bring on a good Wet – finally had some influence.
So here we are, smack bang in the middle of the wet season, with not just the Daly again but all rivers flooding nicely.
Before I get more into it – including where you should have been and where you should be – I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m on one of my big driving trips with favourite red cattledog “Mac” as co-pilot.
I’m currently in Melbourne, after leaving only last Tuesday in the big ‘Cruiser, for a combination of holiday and business; so I have to submit this week’s column early or it won’t happen.
But I have my finger on the pulse because I have a lot of fishing planned when I get back in roughly three-plus weeks.
I can tell you straight away that the best river for barra fishing has been the South Alligator.
How refreshing is that… especially for the Aurora Kakadu Klash in early April?
The South has been such a disappointment for the last two years.
This last weekend saw many boats landing plenty of barra up the South.
Yes, up rather than down.
Old mate Silver Fox, Roger Sinclair, and mates went to the South last Sunday and made some interesting observations – whilst catching a bunch of smallish-but-legal barra by the way.
“We started downriver, about 20km below the bridg, but the creeks weren’t flowing, although the mullet and prawns were going crazy,” Roger told me.
“We hightailed it upriver and found fish above Nourlangie Creek mouth but not all the way up the top.
“That was too flooded – above Leichardt Creek, the water on the high was flowing over the banks.
“Nourlangie Creek mouth itself was flowing strong, but it was dirty.
“Soft-plastic prawns and ZMans, Classic Manta Rays and Classic Barras caught our fish,” Roger confided.
“I do advise people to be careful with the mud-bars: the boat ramp has a huge mud-bar in front of it and you have to go below it wide, cut in to the bank and motor in slowly on tilted engine or electric outboard.
“We pulled out about 5.00pm Sunday and only just made it with a couple more hours of falling tide to come.
“What really surprised me were all the really shallow spots upriver – there were a few with less than a metre of water over them, and the strong currents flowing down were causing waves on the bars up to half a metre… small boats would have been in trouble.
“Little boats on these bigger tides would have struggled,” Roger said.
I asked old mate Andy Ralph, who lives in Kakadu, to fill me in on what he reckons.
“Nourlangie bridges have been really pumping, with plenty of good fish caught on Reidy’s Little Lucifers accounting for barra up to 90cm,” Andy reported.
By “Nourlangie Bridges”, Andy is referring to the three bridge crossings over different tributaries of Nourlangie Creek on the Kakadu Highway.
Each year, if and when they flood, early-bird anglers catch great barra escaping from the Nourlangie Billabongs.
I once loved fishing the three Nourlangie Billabongs, but they’ve been closed to general fishing for all of 30 years now… boy I caught some barra in those amazing lagoons back then!
“Magela Creek (which flows into the East Alligator River) has finally started to get a move on, maintaining 1.5m most of the week… with a 4WD attempting a crossing on the weekend and getting washed off,” Andy told me.
“While Cahills Crossing has been running at over 3m, there’s still no floodplain runoff downstream on the East Alligator, with Magela Creek yet to flow at the mouth (35km down from Cahills).
“The South Alligator has been fishing well for numbers upstream but, apart from rumours of a couple of metre fish up Nourlangie Creek, big fish are hard to come by.
“Up around Leichardt Creek on the South, plenty of small bait has appeared with barra boofing glass fish and pop-eye mullet in plague proportions.
“Lots of water is now coming down, so hopefully the big mud-bar in front of the boat ramp will move soon to allow access during all tides… several boats have come unstuck (or stuck!) recently with only a small channel on the west bank navigable downstream,” our on-the-spot reporter Andy Ralph told me.
Just chatting to Andy, I learnt that on Monday BOM’s Graham King said the Top End is on a monsoon break, with a return forecast next week.
That’s great news too, given how good our rivers are already looking.
Moving on to other options, the Daly closure of its tidal waters downstream (closed from Moon Billabong outlet 1 October to 31 January each year) ended yesterday at end January.
Here’s a good AJ tip: with the Daly currently running at close to 10m, head down – right down – and fish any colour changes, of which you’ll find plenty.
Focus on the bottom half of the tide.
Upriver will be too high; you need to get down to where the flood water has far less influence but the runoff feeder creeks are strong.
Now for a quick update on Shady Camp: Marsh Creek to the west of Mary mouth went off on the building springs and could still fire this weekend.
I’m talking big barra: metreys-plus.
And don’t ignore all those other coastal creeks to the east of the Mary mouth.
Finally, Steve Compain of Arafura Bluewater Charters tells me jewies are biting like crazy on both full and half-day trips… some big ones too.
Mark Lee smashed his PB barra on his NT trip inspired by Million Dollar Fish… no cash; just great memories.
Hughie Raeburn was rapt in his 134cm black jew… big jew are on the bite around Darwin.